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How Palo Santo Is Bringing Spiritual Cleansing to Cairo

Launched in 2021, the local brand is cleansing energy one smudge stick at a time.

The concept of spiritually-cleansing has existed in the African and Arab world for centuries. Even before religion, ancient civilisations seemed to share a consensus that some kind of energy existed that had to be respected and handled carefully. Though these rituals and beliefs have adapted over time, our Arab culture still practices remnants of those traditions today. What is now often seen as a casual Arab home-staple, such as bakhoor, has its roots in something far more spiritual.


Certain ancient spiritual healing remedies have, however, remained intact as they were passed on through generations. Some are even experiencing a major come-back – like ‘palo santo’ and sage or ‘smudge sticks’.


‘Palo Santo’, translating from Spanish into ‘holy wood’, is a tree native to Peru, Ecuador, and other South American countries. Growing in dry tropical forests, it produces an intense aroma when burned. Indigenous communities in these countries have been using palo santo’s wood, resin, and oil for medicinal purposes, to treat pain and stress, and cleanse spaces of negative energy. The holy wood is still being used today and now, thanks to Palo Santo Egypt, it’s available right here in Cairo.


The story of Palo Santo Egypt goes back over a decade, though, as founder Passant Thapet recalls a life-changing trip. “I first found out about palo santo 12 years ago during a family visit to Ecuador,” Thabet tells CairoSecne. “It was the first time I felt peace. I started to study this beautiful wood and how just smelling it would make a huge difference to my day. At the time, I was lucky to get to see the ritual of how palo santo was cut and planted. I was beginning to learn about the healing culture of the Inkas and Mayans, how full of wisdom and spirituality they were. It reminded me of Ancient Egypt.”


Two years ago, Thabet and her partner began to research how different cultures used natural remedies, hoping to help people find the same peace in their lives. “We want to show people how easy and safe it is to use nature to improve our mental health and encourage self healing,” Thapet explains. “After the pandemic it felt like there was such a high increase in the use and reliance on chemicals. These things ruin the body system. We decided to share the knowledge we had on beautiful natural elements – sometimes we just need to go back to nature and reconnect with divine source and our roots. To know who we really are, and what we truly need.“


Palo Santo Egypt are certainly rooted in a divine cause and are catering to a growing community of youth who are more tapped in on how to keep themselves sane. With many of us growing up in an arguably oppressive culture and tight-knit community, the subject of mental health was an almost ridiculous conversation. This, coupled with a nationally rigid perspective on spirituality, stunted the healing and development for an entire generation, who are only just now able to take their power back.


With technology and social media, our society is able to make their own choices and have a say in how they choose to heal. Palo Santo Egypt sees this – and is providing the knowledge and tools you need to take a step towards cleaner energy and aura.